Man warns others of scam invoking AT&T name

Published: Feb. 1, 2014 at 1:31 AM CST|Updated: Mar. 1, 2014 at 1:44 AM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Rob Schneider dodged a bullet and he wants to help others do the same.

It all started when he got a call on his home phone earlier this week. Schneider said the approach the scammer used was different and it caught him completely off guard, but it didn't take him long to figure out the phone call he was on was phony.

"They guy said he was from the AT&T Security Division that first all he needed to know if a certain email I had, a business email address, was mine," said Schneider.

After confirming the email with the man on the other line, he told Schneider his business email address had been compromised and it would have to be canceled. The man then asked Schneider if he'd gotten an email that he'd sent the night before. But after checking all his folders, there was no email.  According to the man on the phone, the email wasn't there because Schneider's business email address had already been shut down.

"I asked what's this all about," he said. "The man told me they were concerned for me. They asked if I had used my email address at a bank or if I had purchased anything in the last 60 days and he mentioned something about gaming. I got really suspicious when he brought that up."

It's a popular tactic according to officials with the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama. During the call, the imposter appears to be concerned about potential bogus charges appearing on the consumer's account.  If the scammer is successful, they trick the consumer into giving bank account information and possibly login information to their bank account.

BBB cautions local residents to watch out for suspicious calls of this nature. Caller ID spoofing allows these callers to mask where they are really calling from so that it is difficult to track them down. You should never provide your login information for your meal to anyone and especially not someone who initiates a call to you. Never provide acct info to anyone you dint know who reaches out to you as well.

If you are unsure if a call to troubleshoot issues with an account is valid, hang up the call and dial the business they claim it represents at a number you've confirmed really belongs to the business.

Schneider called the number that had a 615 area code back once he got off the phone with the man. The number had been disconnected. He tried again and was told it belonged to a Skype user. He told the BBB and AT&T about the trouble he'd had.

Officials with AT&T said there is no way of telling exactly how or from where Mr. Schneider's contact information was initially obtained.

These criminals use another tactic called "phishing" to trick customers into sharing personal information over the phone, allowing them to gain access to wireless accounts or other personal information. Before ending the call, the fraudsters ask personal verification questions which could include things such as social security number, passwords, address and last name.

All wireless customers, regardless of carrier, should be aware of these scams, as they could be impacted.

Spoofing and phishing scams have been around for some time. However, criminals are always changing their tactics, so it is important to be aware of these schemes and remain cautious. Here are a few basic tips:

  • Never give out personal information in response to an incoming call. Identity thieves are clever - they often pose as representatives of banks, credit card companies, creditors, or government agencies to get people to reveal their account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother's maiden names, passwords and other identifying information.
  • If you get a call from a company or government agency seeking personal information, don't provide it. Instead, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company's or government agency's website to find out if the entity that supposedly called you actually needs the requested information from you.
  • Let the FCC know about ID spoofers by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC or filing a complaint online
  • More information on Caller ID spoofing and fraud is available from the FCC online.

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